BERSIH’s mission: Reform electoral system and process

Sdr Guan Eng described the SPR as ” Suara Penipu Rakyat”.

BERSIH (Gabungan untuk Pilihanraya yang Adil dan Bersih) has just held its first roundtable (meja bulat)  today since its inception some three months ago. It was well attended by members and activists from various member NGO and political parties.

We were very glad that the top guns of DAP, PAS,Keadilan and PSM were there to address the participants. DAP was represented by its party Sec Gen Sdr Lim Guan Eng, PAS was represented by its President Sdr Tok Guru Hadi Awang, PKR was represented by its Deputy President Sdr Syed Husin Ali and PSM was represented by its Chairman Sdr Mohd Nasir Hashim. The resource person of BERSIH Sdr Wong Chin Huat was also there to explain what BERSIH stands for besides introducing its member organisations.

The mission of BERSIH is to reform the electoral system and process in this country.

The Election Commission (SPR) has been proven biased without reasonable doubts  and the ruling party Barisan Nasional was very happy with the level of  “service and cooperation” delivered by the SPR in the past general elections and by-elections. BN was so comfortable with the current batch of SPR officials so much so that they have no problem at all in extending their tenure of service.

The current FPTP (first past the post) system works very very well for the ruling coalition. BN may have won only some 64 percent popular votes but they have 92% of the total parliamentary seats in their pocket. They would not be interested at all in the Proportionate Pepresentation system adopted by Germany and other European nations. Jacqueline Ann Surin of the Sun has aptly called it the “unfair advantage” that they like to cling on to.

The electoral processes under the administership of SPR were full of flaws and weaknesses. The opposition has pointed them out these flaws and shortcomings to the SPR repeatedly but were usually ignored without any positive response. What was so difficult to adopt the indellible ink for the voters, for instance? Why can’t they do away with the postal votes for the police and armed forces where the opposition parties have no access of monitoring at all?

Just take the Batu Talam by-election as an example. The BN candidate has obviously blown the stipulated budget of RM100,000 many,many times. We have evidence to show trucks belong to the police and the local district office were used to carry tents, tables and chairs for the BN candidate. The BN have practically broken every rules and regulations under the electoral laws and guidelines but the SPR has once again chosen to close both eyes!

But BERSIH must really work hard on the grounds to make the ordinary voters realise that they were confronted with an unfair and unclean electoral system and process in the country. If the Malaysian voters in general finally realise that the entire electoral system and processes were full of rubbish, the realisation itself would put the ruling BN and the SPR under tremendous pressure.

I took the opportunity to tell the participants that if nothing positive come out of the reforms, we may have to consider adopting a total boycott like what the Thais have done even though our Constitution was different from theirs. Nothing short of a total boycott if we were serious about mounting a real pressure onto the SPR and the ruling BN coalition. I also said that partial boycott will not work and the opposition must be very careful about the timing for a total boycott. I have qualified myself that the idea of calling for a total boycott is entirely mine and it has nothing to do with the party.

Malaysiakini has the story…

Syed Husin: Election boycott not feasible
Andrew Ong and Muda Muhd Noor
Feb 10, 07 5:34pm
malaysiakini
Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali is not that enthusiastic about boycotting the upcoming general election, as proposed by certain groups in the opposition.He said the boycott of the Batu Talam by-election was ineffective because there was a lack of awareness of the boycott on the part of the voters and that opposition party leaders had a ‘difference of opinion’ on what constitutes a boycott.

“Some say that people should vote while others said no. This means that we (opposition leaders) could not give a clear message to the voters,” said Syed Husin.

He said that a boycott of the general election by opposition parties would depend on the ‘mood’ of the voters at the time.

“For now, we are still lacking in organisation and ability to spread word of a boycott,” he added.

Syed Husin said this in his opening address at a round-table discussion on democracy and election organised by Coalition for a Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Ampang today.

At a press conference later however, Syed stressed that PKR and PAS’ boycott of the Batu Talam by-election was a right decision.

“(It was done) in order to tell the world, the government and the Election Commission that the commission was unfair. This was achieved quite well,” he said.

“As it is now, people believe in elections. They take it as a festival. (In the future) we have to be very careful in deciding whether to boycott an election, especially if it’s the general election,” said the former academic-turned politician.

BN’s bittersweet win

Ronnie Liu who also attended the press conference cast doubt on whether the trouncing of independent candidate Ng Chee Pang by Barisan Nasional’s Abdul Aziz Kiram during the Jan 28 by-election, could be considered a true victory.

It is very difficult for BN to claim victory in Batu Talam because it is their traditional stronghold and that they had spent so much money. SPR stipulated that they cannot spend more than RM100,000 in a campaign.

But looking at what happened in Batu Talam, they spent more than RM100,000 a day which resulted in an increase in 862 votes (for BN). It’s a very small number considering the huge resources and machinery being put in,” said Liu, a DAP leader who is also Bersih committee member.

Under election laws, no more than RM100,000 can be spent by a candidate for a state assembly seat. Opposition parties often claim that this rule is often flouted by Barisan Nasional candidates who gets away unpunished.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said it was common for a higher voter turnout to occur during by-elections, but it was not the case in Batu Talam which saw a reduction by about 10 percent as compared to the 2004 general election.

“In my opinion, BN did not win in real terms,” he said.

One Response to “BERSIH’s mission: Reform electoral system and process”

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